'Aural Sculpture' Promo Shot
By 1984, the rat had retired, the raven had flown and so the Stranglers needed a new visual hook. So, in line with the thinking behind the new album, 'Aural Sculpture' fans were presented with the new logo... a human ear. There were to be no Spinal Tap-like cock ups with this one when John King, an artist friend Hugh's, took on a commission to construct the 12 foot lug 'ole that graced the album sleeve.
Other works by John King featured in the Aural Sculpture tour programme (make that Catalogue as we are being arty farty!)
Predictably, transportation for the band's ear was not easy! The ear in transit appeared on the front cover of Vol 2 Issue 20 of the hallowed 'Strangled' magazine. I may be wrong, but I think on this occasion our grey orifice was making the journey up to Newcastle Tyne Tees television studios for the recording of 'The Tube'.
A powerful performance, the Ear on The Tube
7th December 1984
But by 1986, the fickle tide of pop music had swept this shell-like aside in favour of naked aboriginies and the Ear faded from view. But what happened to her then?
Fast forward three years to the summer of 1988, 14th of June to be precise. Throughout the preceding night a group of fans, myself included, travelled back from Dusseldorf, where the band had played the out of town Phillipshalle with the Ramones whilst England 'fans' ran amok in the Altstadt.
For some reason, a group of us decided to return home via Kingston-Upon-Thames (well out of the way for me), then home of S.I.S. Having spent some time perusing photos in the offices, under the watchful eye of Nik Yeomans, the subject of the Ear came up. It was, it transpired, dumped on a nearby piece of land, exposed to the elements and in pretty poor shape. We had to investigate.
A short walk from the offices took us to the location and there she was, battered and faded but unmistakable for all that.
Adrian and Steve Tyas (third and forth from the left).
The others were from Scotland and had been on the same coach to Dusseldorf (Michelle?, Graeme?... sorry the memory fades!)
Now what always amazes me the variety of stuff that accumulates over time in a Stranglers' fans reliquary...... badges, plectrums, set lists etc etc. For some reason, I have retained in my possession a piece of the ear (in reality, a fragment of fibreglass bearing now the merest traces of grey paint!) for the last 24 years. Moreover, I have fiercely resisted any attempt made by my wife to discard it. The grip of an obsession such as this is tight!
A fragment of the 'One True Ear'
Oh, the bliss! oh, the pleasure caressing your ears!